Beauty of a traditional Christmas at Dobbies results in 5.8% growth

GARDEN centre chain Dobbies revealed that like-for-like sales grew by 5.8 per cent during the festive period in what the Lasswade-based company described as its "strongest Christmas to date".

Demand was high for Christmas trees, lights and decorations, along with gifts and festive plants, such as poinsettias.

Website sales rose by 22 per cent in the five weeks to 3 January with children's board games and food hampers proving popular with online shoppers.

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Dobbies – which was taken over by Tesco in 2008 following a battle with rival shareholder West Coast Capital, owned by entrepreneur Sir Tom Hunter – has 25 stores, including 13 in Scotland.

Chief executive James Barnes said: "Our customers made a return to a much more traditional Christmas with our biggest sellers being real trees, poinsettias, wreaths and traditional accessories such as cinnamon-scented pine cones."

Dobbies restaurants – which account for more than 20 per cent of the total business – grew like-for-like sales by 3.5 per cent, while revenue at the company's "farm food halls" rose by 2.8 per cent.

Barnes – who joined the company in 1989 as development director and who led a management buyout in 1994 – said the performance of the food halls and restaurants was driven by the success of the firm's home baking.

The company traces its roots back to 1865 when James Dobbie – chief constable of Renfrew – began selling seeds from his home-grown giant leek.

On Monday, rival chain Garden Centre Group described Christmas trading as "terrific" after ditching its Wyevale branding.